I have great respect for our military and their families, and I believe that all Americans owe a deep debt of gratitude to the military and their families for all that they give to our country every day. While in Iraq visiting our troops, I saw with my own eyes some of the challenges faced and some of the shortcomings of our engagement there. Addressing these issues in a new strategy in Iraq is one of the best things we can do for our troops, our national security, and for the people of that country. Therefore, I supported the President's decision to end the combat mission in Iraq by August 31, 2010. This was the first step toward bringing our brave soldiers home and letting the Iraqi people take control and responsibility of their own country.
While we have substantially drawn down forces in Iraq, the security environment in Afghanistan requires enhanced steps. With the successful mission of our Navy SEALS in the killing of Osama bin Laden, I believe that we must reevaluate our mission in Afghanistan and work to bring our troops home. Part of this evaluation must include determining what our relationship with Pakistan will look like in the future, particularly because we found Osama bin Laden in a military town in Pakistan. Undoubtedly, I remain very concerned about putting our brave troops and civil servants in dangerous combat zones. Therefore I will continue to support funding for our troops and civil servants that ensures their safety through proper equipment and training.
Both Iraq and Afghanistan have cost our country thousands of American lives and trillions of dollars. I believe that responsibly ending these wars is critical to the well-being of our troops and the fiscal health of our country. As our country engages in an important national discussion to significantly cut federal spending, we have to be absolutely sure to protect our friends and allies abroad, most specifically the state of Israel. Defaulting on our aid and military commitments to Israel would not only be fiscally irresponsible but reckless, as Israel is a critical ally who needs our continued support. Israel has many hostile neighbors--a number of which regularly and publicly call for Israel's destruction. During this time of political uncertainty in the Middle East and the breakdown of talks on Iran's nuclear program, it is even more important to keep the U.S.-Israel relationship strong and secure. That is why I fully support and will continue to support U.S. aid to Israel. I will oppose any attempt to reduce that crucial aid.
Foreign aid is an important policy tool that is critical to our national security. Nearly one billion people face the daily, haunting realities of hunger, inadequate or nonexistent healthcare, and horrible living conditions. By investing in people, strengthening economic opportunity, enhancing democracies, and responding to global challenges--such as ideological radicalization, infectious diseases, hunger, illiteracy, and environmental degradation--international poverty relief funding helps the U.S. affect world affairs while providing hope and aid to impoverished families around the world.